“No time for breakfast today – in the life of a Social Worker, this is a rarity. I just got a text that we have a new referral who was picked up in a police raid the night before. I pull my coat on and text back and forth with the UK Director of Care, Lynne, about this new young person as I head to the tube.”
Site of exploitation: Cannabis factory
Age: 17 maybe? Unsure.
Date of first arrival in the UK: We don’t know, and this is typical.
Risk of being re-trafficked: High
“Jump off tube, coffee in hand, onto a train.”
Love146 UK isn’t yet a first responder and we only arrive on scene once the Local Authority (LA) have determined that we can help. Social Workers and the Love146 UK team, can only step in because they do a great job…….A partnership we are grateful for.
“Lynne has since picked up the young person and taken her into our care. She and our interpreter will explain to Bian that she’s in a safe place – telling her who we are and that we are going to help her.”
As a Social Worker I know that the first hours after rescue are the riskiest.
“Hopefully she’ll be there when I arrive. I’m confident that she will. We haven’t lost a young person yet, and I know why: The Safety Plan. And, it’s being implemented before I get there.”
“I arrive at the Love146 UK placement. Lynne is there with our interpreter and Ann, a Love146 UK carer. We say quick hellos and I’m introduced to Bian.”
She’s small. She keeps biting her lip. I’d be nervous too.…..
“I learned that she was rescued last night and arrived here around the same time I was …finally closing my laptop and heading to sleep……
She would have met so many people last night so, this morning I make sure things are low-key as we chat…..
Her English is pretty good. I introduce myself and right away she asks to make a call. I smile sympathetically, but say no.”
What’s Bian’s priority? To call her trafficker……
She would have been told by her trafficker to call if picked up. Perhaps she or her family has been threatened with reprisal if she doesn’t find a way to tell the trafficker how to locate her.”
“I suggest we walk around the back garden. It’s fenced and secure. Our interpreter has made sure that Bian understands the Safety Plan. No Phone. No internet. Therefore, we intentionally don’t tell her our location.”
These are some of the essential components of Bian’s Safety Plan. They help her break her connection with her trafficker and establish a relationship with her carer.
“And, for the first few weeks, she is with one of the team at all times. It’s a gorgeous day and the carer’s garden is lovely. Bian lingers by the rows of snap peas that are just sprouting. We chat a bit with broken English, but she’s quiet, and that’s OK.”
“I say my goodbyes and leave Bian in the capable hands and loving home of Ann. On the train I begin to write-up an evaluation of my first meeting with Bian. Back in London, I send it to Bian’s Social Worker and Lynne.”
We are a team and we’re all working together with the same goal; to keep HER safe. And, with the Safety Plan in place, we just might pull it off.
“I grab some food…at last and try and wrap my head around my next meeting…..
In Local Authority care for: 4 months
Time when exploitation took place: 8 months ago
“We meet in a café where small children run around, screaming and laughing. His eyes are tired, but he smiles and speak hopefully about his future. But he’s worried about his request for asylum. I tell him that no matter the outcome.”
We will be there for him, even if the decision is negative…..we can appeal.
“He knows all this, bit it’s something that constantly worries every trafficked young person I’ve worked with. My experience as a Social Worker has taught me that the fear of a negative response can make young people run!”
“……I watch him carefully as we talk, he shares that he has been having nightmares, and I do my best not to cry. I see that he’s fragile but also peaceful. We both smile when two children bump into us as they wrestle happily.”
“It’s moments like this that embody the beauty and the challenge in the work I do. It’s a privilege to journey with these brave young people.
I’m grateful that I do it with such a supportive team around me. All of us here at Love146 UK – from Lynne, our Director of Care to Natalie, our Finance Manager. We’re all here to support young people and children like Bian and Agon.”
They are both vulnerable but with the right support WE KNOW they can have fulfilled lives, even after such tragedy.
* Names and selected details have been changed for protection.
If you’re interested in the work we do, then we’d love to keep in touch. Whether you sign up to hear stories of hope and urgency OR want to support this work with a donation – from us all, and Bian and Agon. Thank you for your love and support.